“The Four monitored the heretics. Their numbers were growing. The infighting between the factions had abated. They were coalescing, uniting, and rebuilding. They organized. The attacks against the space between spaces intensified. Humanity needed to be taught a lesson.” (Invictus Orb 7:4)
“Yes,” Adorjan repeated softly.
Joæn stepped up towards Adorjan who was still holding his hand towards her. He pulled her into an embrace. Through the fog enveloping his mind, one recurring thought pervaded: Joæn. As everything faded into an unfeeling gulf of emptiness only Joæn stood out. He needed her. She was his anchor. He let his head sink into her shoulder while still supporting the weight of her body. They pulled away from their embrace. Joæn stood next to Adorjan holding onto his hand. She leaned on him allowing him to support her. Like this, they turned towards the tunnels and started walking.
As they reached the entrance, with the large metal doors, a group of merfolk walked out headed by Monster. They noticed that one of the mercreatures was carrying another unconscious mercreature. Its feet had merged. It looked truly like the mercreatures the stock humans had historically seen in the seas.
As the groups passed each other, Monster paused letting the mercreatures continue on ahead of him.
“Are you alright?” Monster asked solemnly.
Adorjan simply responded, “yes.”
“I saw that you stayed outside the passages. That was extremely dangerous. You could have died. You might still have suffered cellular damage. Once you get inside — ” Monster paused. He saw that Adorjan did not wear a transistor, “you will need a transistor. It needs to complete an in-depth scan of your body systems.” Monster extended his long arms towards the group that had walked on ahead. “As you see even down in the passages deep under the Earth’s crust we are not truly protected. My companion suffered extreme cellular damage.”
Joæn said, “then why this weapon?”
Monster’s emotionless face did not flinch when he said, “there are no other options. First the implosion will effectively remove all debris that is scheduled to rain across Earth when the orbs collide into each other. Also, whatever system might and could survive has to be destroyed. This will be the only way to truly and completely remove the infrastructure the Four depend on. It has to be completely destroyed. Their systems are extremely redundant. If some part, any part, remains they might be able to return and establish a connection with the Earth-side Cadmium network.”
“What?” Cine said.
Monster turned, “I have to go. There is much to be done before the launch.”
Cine looked dejected. He wanted an answer from Monster.
They entered the entrance to the tunnels and walked down the stairs. Again, they passed the shimmering circles of lights. Again, they were walking deep into the tunnels where the quantum test had hit them.
Cine spoke up, “Alldata, where can we find a transistor for Adorjan and a private area for the four of us?”
“Please follow the path outlined at your feet.”
A blue light appeared on the floor and guided them to an empty room. The room mirrored the design of the rest of the mercreatures world. It was white with soft glowing walls. The blue glow emanating from the walls submerged the entire room.
When they entered the room, a table materialized from the floor as well as four white chairs. Adorjan walked Joæn to the nearest chair and helped her sit. He took the chair next to her. Cine sat in front of Adorjan and Tray sat across his sister.
“How are you feeling Joæn?” Tray asked.
“Better, but my arm is still useless.”
“Maybe the transistors can tell us how you are doing?”
Cine chimed in, “and we need a transistor for Adorjan.”
Adorjan frowned but nodded his head. From the center of the table, a blue square light appeared. Cine bent forward and tapped it. A compartment opened up and inside a transistor lay ready for removal. Cine picked up the silver oval and offered it to Adorjan who hesitantly took from Cine. Adorjan pressed the transistor over his arm and it melted over his forearm.
When it solidified, Adorjan looked up questioningly. “Well?”
Joæn said, “Alldata, is anything wrong with Adorjan?”
The metallic voice said, “Adorjan Corr, would you like me to run a full cellular scan of your body to diagnose any quantum damage you may have suffered?”
“Yes,” Adorjan replied. “Now what?”
The transistor replied, “The scan will take a couple of minutes. Please continue with your normal activity.”
Adorjan shrugged his shoulders. His gaze was still distant. He felt cold inside.
“How is my arm?” Joæn asked.
“You are healing. In a couple of hours your nerves cells will have regenerated.”
The room fell silent. The soft blue light glowed steadily. Adorjan suddenly leaned forward and rested his head on the table.
“I need to sleep.”
A bed slid out of the wall with a soft swooshing noise. Adorjan lifted his head to see it and without a word walked to it and lay down.
Cine said in a low voice, “I don’t understand this world.”
Tray looked over at Cine, “it is our vessel. It is our ship. In a sea of dangers, this world — down here — shall be our safe passage through the storm the Four have unleashed.”
Adorjan started snoring.
Joæn smiled and said, “you said we haven’t experienced loss before, but we have. Here now, we have to rebuild our family. It’s that simple. If we survive. We have to rebuild from here,” Joæn said point at the three of them at the table, “on.”
Cine nodded, “to think, the Four are the very thing that we shunned. They are the epitome of technology. How could we have been so blind? How can we have been so docile?”
Joæn said, “ignorance is a powerful narcotic.”
“I feel like we have to do something now. Organize. Prepare. Something,” Cine said.
“No,” Tray finally said, “we are pawns in a complicated game. At this stage, we can only move forward. Our only power now lies in observing. We move forward and observe. When we are ready we will be able to become what we want and attack how we may.”
“If,” Joæn laughed and caught herself when Adorjan shifted in his bed. She started again in a lower tone, “if we survive.”
They fell silent again listening to Adorjan’s steady snoring.